9 - Sisters in the Giving Spirit

Alumnae groups nationwide continuously illustrate the impact Sisters can make when they remain involved with Chi Omega, and our Dallas alumnae are no exception. These Sisters know a thing or two about giving back to crucial organizations in their community, while also feeding our holiday shopping splurges and encouraging connection. Their annual Chi Omega Christmas Market has raised over eight million dollars since it’s inception. You read that right – Eight. Million. Dollars. It’s 41st year, happening this weekend, is sure to be another impressive feat.

“The denominator of our shopper is connections,” says Karen Gray, one of four co-chairs of the Chi Omega Christmas Market 2018. “They still want to come and meet with their friends, they still want a place to go for a girl’s night out, they still want to go and touch and feel the products that aren’t available to a normal brick and mortar here. It is an experience not to be missed.”

2016 Chi Omega Christmas Market

The History of the Chi Omega Christmas Market

The first Chi Omega Christmas Market came to fruition in November 1978 after a group of Dallas alumnae wanted to give back to their community in a big way. After two years of meticulous planning, the Market was hosted in the old Dallas Convention Center where 49 single booths and 14 double booths filled the space with holiday cheer.

One of the original Market Chairmen said, “Getting merchants for that first year was very hard! It took a real team of ladies to sell them on the idea.” That 1978 team not only secured the merchants, but proved that the Market could be a hit for years to come, as it resulted in a tremendous success and raised $13,150 for the surrounding Dallas community.

In 1980 the event moved to the Convention Center Ballroom of the old NorthPark Inn. In the following years the Market grew exponentially and moved back to the Dallas Convention Center in 1987, where they stayed until 2012. They currently are happy to call Fair Park the home of their signature holiday tradition.

S.H. Shelley Potter, then S.K.A., at the Chi Omega Christmas Market in 1997

The Chi Omega Christmas Market Today

Because of its years of tremendous success, the Market now has an extensive application process as well as a merchant waiting list. Because of this they are able to host 180-200 of the best merchants in the area showcasing gifts for every age including holiday decor, women’s clothing and accessories, home accents, children’s clothing and toys, food gifts, men’s items, and much more!

Funds for Chi Omega Christmas Market beneficiaries are derived solely from ticket sales, merchant booth fees, donations, and underwriting. Chi Omega Christmas Market receives no money from merchant booth sales, allowing all merchants to gain not only public exposure, but profits from the market as well. The 2017 Market provided donations totaling $360,000 to worthy local organizations.

Dallas alumnae at the check presentation in February for funds raised at the 2017 Chi Omega Christmas Market

The scale of this holiday favorite is possible because of volunteers that work year-round planning for this three-day event. The volunteers put in an impressive 3,000 hours during the week of the Market, and in its 40 year history Chi Omega Christmas Market has distributed over $8.12 million dollars to the Dallas community through grants to local charities and collegiate scholarships.

“This is the big one!” exhales Susan Jones of Garland, owner of Susan Jones Gifts. Jones is a first time vendor at Chi Omega and says she became emotional when she saw her name on the booth. “It is so exciting, because I feel like I’m in the big league.”

2018 Chi Omega Christmas Market Co-Chairs from the left, Karen Gray, Lizz McKean, Carol Hillman, Judy Zurlis

“It’s huge! It really is huge,” says Betty Collins, co-owner of Forget Me Not, in Highland Park. “I mean, we have been planning and plotting and buying for this since the spring.”

Preparing the event’s massive space in the days leading up to this year’s Chi Omega Christmas Market

“What I like is seeing so many alumnae come to work a volunteer shift, Mother’s Club members also! Though you may go all year without seeing some friends, you can count on Chi Omega Christmas Market to catch up, have fun and, of course, shop!” says Sally Larroca, Office Manager for Chi Omega Christmas Market.

The event has grown so much over its history that the area alumnae now consistently give over $250,000 a year to worthy Dallas organizations. This major monetary contribution is in large part due to the support of the shoppers who purchase tickets in crowds surpassing 10,000 each year.  Over the past 40 years, this event has supported 115 different agencies in the Dallas area.

“What that represents to you and me is the health, education and welfare of our neighbors, our community,” says Karen Gray. “This year we have promised more than $250,000 back to 10 beneficiaries, so when you come and buy a ticket, you are supporting one of those beneficiaries in an indirect way.”

To learn more about the Chi Omega Christmas Market visit  http://www.chiomegaxmas.org/

Source: CBS DF, November 2018 https://dfw.cbslocal.com/2018/11/14/chi-omega-christmas-market-fair-park/